Saturday, November 15, 2008

Classic Pie Crust

Most people think that pie crusts are hard to do, but I've learned that they really aren't so bad. There are just some tricks to know that make pie crusts easier. First of all, you'll need cold ingredients, mainly the butter, shortening, and water. The reason these things need to be cold is to slow the development of gluten in the flour. If the gluten develops, you'll end up with a rubbery, heavy crust. Some people even go as far as chilling their mixing bowl and pastry blender. I don't see that as necessary, but evidently, some people do.

I like this crust recipe because it uses a combination of shortening and butter. Recipes that call for all shortening give you a nice and flaky crust, but recipes that call for all butter give you a rich, melt-in-your-mouth texture - not so much flaky. This recipe give you a little of both!

Here's what you'll need:

3 C. flour
2 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ C. shortening, chilled
½ C. butter, chilled
8-10 T. cold water

In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, and salt.
When measuring flour, always level off the top with a straight edge, like the straight side of a knife, or like me, just use your finger.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening and butter until mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Tossing the mixture quickly and lightly with a fork, sprinkle in the water, one Tablespoon at a time, until dough holds together when lightly pressed.

Gather dough into a ball. Divide in half. Cover with plastic wrap (I just put each ball into a bread bag and press it) and form into a disk; chill about 30 minutes.

Keep one disk refrigerated while you roll out the other disk.

Here's my trick to transfering the dough to your pie plate: roll it up onto your rolling pin, then unroll it onto the plate. Pretty easy!

Cut off any extra dough. Fold under and press the edges, then decorate (with scallops or curves, etc.) as desired. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Continue as directed in individual recipes.

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